Most Americans’s familiarity with the region of Lazio begins and ends with Rome. But if you venture outside the city limits, you will not be disappointed. Take a short day trip south to the area known as Castelli Romani, where Roman nobles once summered. Or tour striking volcanic hills and crater-lakes around the villages of Frascati and Marino— two of Lazio’s best-known wine towns.
The town of Frascati, only twelve miles south of the Italian capital, is instrumental in the production of the quaffable white wines that are native to the region. For intimate dining, I love the simplicity of Zaraza, just off the beautiful Piazza Vescovile. Ask for the terrace tables and dine on splendid gnocchi (available only on Thursdays throughout all of Lazio) and the killer zuppa di cicerchie, made from a twisty-shaped kind of garbanzo traditional to this region. For something a little bigger and bit fancier (but not overly-polished) I really enjoy Cacciani. It’s a huge place and pretty much the main event in town, and for good reason… the dishes are classics and very well done. This is the place for pastas like spaghetti cacio e pepe, simply dressed with sheep’s milk cheese and black pepper, or fettuccine with “regaglie” a ragu of chicken livers, gizzards and cockscombs.
The white Frascati is Lazio’s most famous wine export. For a wine to be labeled Frascati it must be comprised of at least 70 percent Malvasia and/or Trebbiano grapes, with up to 30 percent Greco or Malvasia del Lazio and/or up to 10 percent other whites (Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, Viognier, etc). Best drunk the summer after it has been released, we salute Frascati during the month of July, and we praise improved winemaking practices that allow us to (safely) enjoy this delight of a white.